Creating New Categories
Vegetable noodles represent the rare category of items that are new to produce. Created as an alternative to pasta and first created from zucchini, veggie noodles of different brands, cuts and shapes occupy a prominent spot in the cooler section of the department.
Veggie Noodle Co., based in Austin, TX, exclusively produces and markets vegetable noodles. “People love veggie spirals. We pioneered the first packaged USDA organic products using patent-pending machinery,” says Jennie Shen, marketing “gourdinator.” “We make noodles from several types of sweet potatoes, along with zucchini, butternut squash and beet. In addition to spirals, our newest line is Veggiccine, a flat, thicker, wider cut that can hold more sauce and seasoning.”
Veggie Noodle recently moved into a new, custom-designed building. Mason Arnold, founder and chief executive, notes it will “increase production capacity by more than five times and enable Veggie Noodle Co. to continue to lead the market with a national presence.” The company’s products can be found in 2,000 stores in 38 states.
Other companies in the vegetable noodle space include Del Monte, which offers noodles from zucchini, butternut squash, sweet potato, beet, yellow squash and carrot, and Green Giant, with five varieties available in a 6-ounce bowl, 10.5-ounce steam-in-pack pouch and 14-ounce clamshell.
Salinas, CA-based Mann Packing stands out for its innovative ready-to-use fresh veggie offerings. “We have a unique way of cutting fresh vegetables into shapes that inspire creativity for everyday meals,” explains Jacob Shafer, senior marketing and communications specialist. “We also are very focused on vegetable-based salad kits with new, innovative, and unique blends that include multiple on-trend vegetables and are available in conventional, club, and multipack formats.
Mann’s recently broke new ground with its Nourish Bowls, the first and only warm bowl kit in the marketplace. Shafer notes Mann’s ability to innovate attracts new consumers. “We provide quick and easy solutions in grab-and-go formats to create the ultimate in convenience for life on the move.”
It’s hard to ignore the groundbreaking success of cauliflower crumbles, also called cauliflower “rice.” Like veggie noodles, cauliflower crumbles appeal to shoppers who seek to reduce the amount of carbohydrates or starch calories in their diet.
“Our patented Cauliflower Crumbles product was first to market and has gained wild popularity along the way,” says Jamie Strachan, chief executive, Growers Express & Green Giant Fresh, Salinas, CA. “We followed with two additional Crumbles products — Cauliflower Crumbles Fried Rice Blend and Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Crumbles. The most important part of our innovation process is identifying how consumers are using our products and then developing and making these new formats more widely available.”
Another first-to-market item is Green Giant’s new patent-pending Spaghetti Squash product. The squash is peeled, cored and cut into chunks for easy cooking or steaming right in the pack. “We’re happy to provide healthful, gluten-free, Paleo-friendly and lower carb and calorie alternatives for health-conscious and time-starved consumers,” says Jennifer Dixon, vice president, marketing.